CHEF CONCIERGE • December 2019
When in Singapore, start your day with a roti prata (a cross between crisply fried flatbread and a flaky pancake) served with a side portion of curry. I’d go for mutton or fish. Head to Mr and Mrs Mohgan Super Crispy Roti Prata shop for a taste; it also does a banana roti prata for those after a sweet start. Either way, this dish really sets you up for the day.
The Singaporean word for coffee, kopi, is a big deal here. Made with condensed milk, it has the same vibe as a Vietnamese coffee, but with an even richer coffee flavour. If I’m not having roti prata, I’ll go and see Mr Chow at Heap Seng Leong, who’s been serving silky smooth kopi gu you (coffee with a slab of butter, slowly melting inside) in his pyjamas for as long as I can remember.
You have to try kaya toast. Kaya is kind of coconut jam, which Singaporeans slather in between two slices of white bread with butter, usually eaten with a portion of boiled eggs on the side. Mr Chow (see above) does a mean version, or try YY Kafei Dian which serves its in a fancier brioche bun; I could happily eat five in one sitting. It’s this idea of a quintessential kopi tiams (coffeehouse) experience that influenced meimei the most.
Named after the Latin word for nourishment, Michelin-starred Nouri is all about food that makes you incredibly happy to eat. Chef Ivan is extremely passionate, and the team really put in the research, yet nothing is overworked. I had a scallop ceviche dish (pictured above) which was unforgettably delicious, forged into the shape of a rose, served with tiger milk and herb oil, caviar and flowers. A real stand-out.
A 70-year old mee pok (a pork noodle soup) stall by day, and a speakeasy-style restaurant by night, Bincho at Hua Bee is worth the short taxi ride from the city centre. It’s a really secret, snug space. The restaurant serves an exceptional range of sake and its yakitori menu is to die for – a skewered chicken dish you can see the cooks grilling over charcoal in the open kitchen.
I know the founder of the Unlisted Collection restaurant group, and any of its 18 restaurants in Singapore are pretty much guaranteed to impress. On my last trip I took my husband on a tour of the restaurants – which you can imagine was pretty pricey, but absolutely worth it. Michelin-starred Cloudstreet for instance, is a beautiful place to eat. You aren’t given menus, so everything is a delicious surprise.
It has to be Smoke & Mirrors, on the rooftop of the National Gallery (pictured above). The views are stunning; it’s right across from Marina Bay with its famous infinity pool, and you can just about see the Gardens by the Bay. The cocktail menu connects with an app that uses QR codes to bring the stories of the cocktail to life. Try its signature Smoke & Mirrors #4 with some bar snacks at sunset for the full experience. And don’t forget to book in advance!
Singapore is street food. Sungei Road Laksa is one of my favourite stalls; it has super generous laksa (noodle soup) bowls that are so spicy, you’ll want a cold drink on hand. And Ah Tai Chicken Rice over in the Maxwell Food Centre. Its neighbour, Tian Tian, rakes in crazy queues thanks to admirers like Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay, but Ah Tai’s chicken and rice is just as nice, if not better – with half the queue.
Elizabeth’s newest restaurant, Mei Mei in London’s Borough Market, is open now.